“Please don’t shoot, please don’t. They are innocent civilians.”
This was the cry of Catholic nun Rose Lasang Nu Tawng of the Diocese of Myitkyina in Myanmar as she faced armed policemen on Sunday, February 28.
The nun, a member of the Congregation of St. Francis Xavier, stood between the phalanx of policemen and soldiers on one side and the protesters on the other.
The police and soldiers started to aim their guns at the people when out of nowhere Sister Rose suddenly came out and stood in the middle of the crowd.
She cried and begged the policemen and soldiers to put down their guns and to avoid violence. A photo of the nun negotiating with the security forces became viral on social media.
Later in the day, Sister Rose helped the wounded to a clinic she and her sisters in the congregation manage for the past three years.
Radio Veritas Asia spoke with Sister Rose who narrated her experience that Sunday morning.
“It was Sunday (February 28) and the clinic was not open. All the hospitals were closed and the number of poor patients were increasing.
“Although it was Sunday, I invited Catholic Doctors who took part in [the demonstrations] and other friends to be in our clinic to help take care of the poor patients.
“I saw people, mainly protesters, in the street in front of our clinic.
“Before that, I felt very sad about what happened in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Daw, Yangon, and in many other places in the country, where people had to shed their blood, some were shot to the head.
“I encouraged people to protest peacefully. I also took part in the protests on February 8 on foot and on motorcycle. Although I am a religious sister, I am also a citizen.
“I am very sad because the people who expressed their desire for peace were faced with cruelty and were arrested. The people could not have a peaceful rest because they have to be alert. These made me depressed and unhappy.
“I have seen different groups such as school teachers, lawyers, students, passing by in front of our clinic.
“When the Catholic Youth Group were about to reach our place, police and army vehicles with water cannons approached from behind the youth group.
“Then there was a loud explosion. We were all shocked and we ran away and helped keep the people from the police. Our clinic is in a large compound and the door was open.
“About a hundred people ran into our clinic, some of them were arrested and were beaten. There were also gunfire and explosions.
“I was crying out loudly, and I tried to get back the people who were taken by the police. I tried to intervene, and the police beat me. Probably, I looked like a fool that time.
“I prevented the police from entering our clinic by stretching out my arms. They returned to their vehicles and gave a signal that they will be coming back.
“Many people tried to flee, but they could not because some fell on the ground and some hurt themselves. I too wanted to run away, but I felt pity for the people, so I decided to stay, and die if it is necessary.
“I stood before the policemen while I told the other people to run. As the police began to come forward, I folded my hands and knelt down before them and asked for mercy for the people.
“I told them that the people have already suffered much. ‘I do not want to see their plight. Just shoot me to death,’ I told the policemen.
“Because I was still there, they were not able to move forward. I noticed that only me and the police were left in the place. All the people disappeared.
“Then I withdrew. I brought the sick and those who fainted to the clinic. As I was about to go inside, the policemen came back and again I faced them and tried to chase them out.
“Then I heard gunfire, so I went near the policemen. ‘These people are innocent and they just want to protest in a peaceful way. Do not treat them harshly. All of us are citizen and are brothers and sisters. If it is necessary, just kill me and let the people be free,’ I told the police.
“‘Do not come nearer, it is dangerous,’ the police said. I refused. ‘As long as you continue to do cruel things, I will not move away, instead, I will suffer death,’ I said.
“’If the children are bad, the parents must give them instruction,’ they told me.
“I answered them: ‘What is wrong? What wrong did the people do? There’s Nothing in their hands. They have no guns with.’
“‘We will not kill them. We will never kill them,’” an officer said.
“‘No, they may not die, but if they are hurt on their legs then the legs will be broken. If they are shot on the head, how can they live? Do not shoot them anymore. The civilians are your family members too,’ I replied.
“As I prolonged the conversation, the people were able to flee. The police too left.
“When I came back to the clinic, the young people and the doctors were still there. One young man was seriously wounded while another was unconscious. The other sisters helped to bring more wounded people to the clinic.
“I thanked God for the strength to face the policemen and prevented them from beating and arresting the people.” - RVA News